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RhettaGrace 01-30-2011 11:24 AM

A Day in the Life of a Summer Camp Volunteer
It's a dream to job to me. I honestly love it. Having the opportunity to teach kids alongside my best friend/trainer. However, working 8 hours, 5 days a week in the 90 degree heat has it's tough times.
My schedule starts out like this:
8:30 A.M. arrive at the barn. We talk to Jenny, the instructor, to discuss riding lesson plans, ground lesson plans, horses we are going to use in the morning and/or in the afternoon, and whether my sister and I were going to get to ride today. Often, after this is decided, the campers arrive at the barn at around 9. On a Monday, the campers introduce themselves, we (the instructors/volunteers) introduce ourselves. Then, we fetch the required horses with them to show them how to catch and halter a horse. They lead the horses down the tacking post and we give them a quick grooming lesson. Curry comb, hard brush, soft brush, ECT.... At the time, it takes at least 2 campers to pick out just one hoof. Normally, I or my sister hold up the hoof while they scrape away. After around 30 minutes of this and quick dusting of fly spray, we teach each camper how to saddle. We set the tiny western saddles on the each of the horses and show how to cinch. It's almost a rule, they cinch and we tighten. Some of the horses are too girthy for the kids to do it anyway.
Once all the horses are bridled and saddled properly, the first group of riders heads out to the arena (Horse to kid ration, 4:8). We split them into two groups, one to ride first while the other kids are taught the ground lesson by me. Day one is normally horse colors and markings followed by a trip around the barn to point out the colors. Day two is learning and cleaning tack, three is anatomy, four is normally horse nutrition followed by a quiz on all four lessons. After the first group is done, the second group mounts up and I take the tired ones.
Once everyone has ridden, it's time to untack and groom again before storing the horses away. The 2 kids that rode that horse, take care of it and put it away. After this, the parents arrive for those only staying for the morning session. We have 1-2 kids staying all day through our lunch break which is around 12 P.M. This grates on our nerves though because our lunch break is a time for us to relax and eat away from campers. During our lunch break, we also get the chance to ride an available horse. I normally ride Gracie, a hyper jumping Arab, since no one else rides her because she is too much for kids.
After our hour lunch break, the second group of kids arrive. These kids are more advanced then the morning, most of them already have at least some experience trotting. Some of them know how to tack up independently, but that is a rare case. After going through the same procedures we did in the first, the day is FINALLY over! By the end, I am exhausted. But it's a lot of fun. Not to mention it is something to do over the summer when your parents are at work. :)

Poseidon 01-30-2011 02:48 PM

Oooh. This sounds pretty similar to what I do in the summer, but I'm a full time senior counselor at the same time and it's for weeks at a time, rather than the kids go home at the end of their timeframe. They go back with their cabin. While my cabin is off doing their scheduled activities, I go to the corral and do wrangler stuff.

Our horsemaster camp isn't as thorough as picking out hooves because each camper has their "own" horse that they ride for the week (for the most part, there is some switching occasionally) and there is generally around 9 kids per class with only 2-3 wranglers doing each class.

The first day goes over tacking up, grooming, types of bits and how to catch and the like. Then they get assigned their horse and they practice catching and identifying that horse.

The other days are usually a mix of trail rides, going up to the pasture, and playing in the arena, depending on the level.

I am sad to say this is probably my last year working at camp, but I'm not sure yet. I don't want to. It's my 5th summer this year, 2nd as a full-time wrangler (I was a lifeguard before and still do that when needed). It's the best job I will ever have, and probably the most stressful..but I love it.

RhettaGrace 01-30-2011 10:43 PM

Yeah our's isn't a sleep away camp. :-) There is no place for the campers to sleep! :lol: But yeah, I'm just a volunteer. A lot of times, the kids get to ride most of the horses and they pick a favorite to ride in the end of the week show on Friday.

But it is a lot of work. My friends would ask me if I wanted to go to the mall or something on Friday night and I am just like NO!!! :lol: TOO TIRED!! But it is great opportunity to help teach kids and to work around horses at the same time. :D

Poseidon 01-30-2011 10:55 PM

We don't do a show at the end, but the advanced kids (which is usually only 4 or 5 if not less) get to go swimming in the lake bareback one day, then they go on a campout in the south pasture with the horses. And at the beginning of the summer, it's so rainy and wet that sometimes they don't get to go on the campout, so we started doing this thing on Friday mornings where we wake them up at around 7:30 to go feed with us, then tack up and go out to the south pasture and have breakfast there.

I didn't get to do it last summer because I messed up my neck riding and ended up in the ER with unbearable headaches, so I had left camp early that week. Sucked. But! Camp starts again in June and I'm pumped to be a part of the breakfast club.

I'm glad most of my friends at home work at camp too, so I don't get any of those "Do you want to go to the mall?" annoyances. We're all dead tired because we only come home Friday nights after the campers are gone and have to be back by noon on Sunday. It's a 45 minute drive for me. So all the counselors do their laundry and sleep on weekends if they go home. We can do laundry there and stay sometimes, as people rent out the camp and we staff it.

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